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Book Review of “The Asocial Networking” by Dhiraj Kumar

The Asocial Networking

By Dhiraj Kumar

Social Media has intrigued me, more in the last couple of years when I realized the potential it holds. And on receiving a book review request from Dhiraj about his book I was more than happy to do it!
Thankfully, the book proved to be interesting enough for me to complete it, and not like a text book for dummies.

A debut attempt, this book somewhere reflects the author’s angst for the virtual world. This is one aspect I appreciate and would expect writers to keep in mind: Write what you truly feel- with convictions (but backed by strong facts/stats and data!)
The 150 odd essays (the author’s experiences) running over 300 pages reflect the debate between the real and the virtual world and how being offline is now a thing of the past. For those who aren’t online, they are as good as non-existent!
The author has some really stern views and I respect those, but maybe the virtual world is gaining prominence for a reason. Going all out and unleashing fury might not help at this stage. #justsaying
A slower evolution would do the trick, if everyone realizes the commercial propaganda that the virtual circle has in fact created around everyone one of us.
Many points in this book were too basic for me (sorry about that but I have read quite a bit in to social media) and thus felt repetitive at many places.
Most of the author’s points/experiences do make for a good read- given the style of writing. Like decoding personalities with the kind of status updates or pictures or activities one indulges in.
My only woe was the fact that towards the end it wasn’t all that intellectually stimulating or arousing. Too much of repetition got me disheartened. New approach yes, but the freshness fizzled out.
Had he supported his views “against” social media with staunch proven facts/stats-I’d be more than a fan! Certain points mentioned here were an #EpicFail. Really.
Another very prominent point is: the author talks majorly about FB as his point of reference for Social Media. More prominence to twitter or linkein or google plus would’ve made this more interesting.

Social Media has a lot many advantages for those who can harness its powers. And for those who suck the life out of it, they only see the short comings. Maybe Dhiraj hasn’t had good experiences on FB but he should give it a fair chance. And other social media sites too. There are successful stories floating around too!

Yes, quite a few of us are hooked on to it (for various reasons) but the smart ones do know where to draw the line. I say, newbies should give it a read. They are the ones who need to know where to stop and think about the effects of social media.

Overall, it did make for a good read for me – as it gave me a chance to notice the opinions of a social media critic.
I would recommend it to youngsters more so who still aren’t very clear about the Social Media assets and short-comings. This book will reveal quite a lot to them.

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How To Promote Your Writing

 

Writing is an enjoyable exercise, for most. It is a great way to express your thoughts and feeling with words.

And to garner appreciation for it just adds to the charm, doesn’t it? Further, the thought of “earning” a bit through your work sounds intriguing enough…true? The number of bloggers turning into writers speaks for itself. But not many writers/bloggers find it easy to promote their work. The key word here is “driving traffic to your site where you publish your writing.”
So I thought of putting together a simple list of things one can do to gather a bit of recognition, to begin with.

Attractive Blog Page
Once during our Marketing session in college we were told: jo dikhta hai who bikta hai. (One (product) that is seen is the one that is sold.)
So to begin with, make sure you have a decently attractive blog page. There are a lot of blogging/writing platforms available. WordPress, Joomla, Blogger, Blogspot, Drupal etc., and almost all of them provide members with easy plugins to further help you link it to social media sites. Choose the one that you find easy enough and start harping about your blog/writing.

Create a short and crisp (and may I add “killer”) bio or profile for yourself. Add a picture of yourself if you wish. Once people start liking your content/post, they do tend to read about you.
Blogging platforms also provide members with certain color and background themes to make the page more appealing. They also help with easy navigation layouts. This helps members to organize their blocks and make their “recent” or famed posts more accessible to readers. They provide space for certain ads as well. Easy navigation should be one of the key features of your page.

Do not forget to provide the RSS feed links for people who wish to follow you.

SEO and Link Building

Wise men have said: On the internet, Content is King! 
You have to churn out good, readable material. Know your niche, your strengths and your dominance. It will help you write superlative content.

And you needn’t be a techie geek to know the working of Search Engine Optimization. All you need remember is that SEO essentially banks on the structure of the content you put in. The content needs to be the one that readers are looking for. It needs to be of relevance to the readers to connect with. Make sure you keep the content current and update it on regular basis. This will help readers come back to your site and also share it amongst their friends.

Link Building refers to the back links your page is connected with. One easy way of doing it is by submitting to ‘bookmarks’. People suggest guest blogging and writing guest articles as an effective mean to creating and building back links.

You can also chalk out press releases and submit articles to promote your site. Make sure it has ample of back links to bring in readers.
Social Media Platforms
The mention of social media essentially pops two names in your mind –doesn’t it? FaceBook and Twitter. Yes, they are amongst the top ranking social media platforms to connect with people across the globe. And surely they are a great way to stay connected with people.

One major advantage of networking on social media sites is to help gather an audience and create more back links. You don’t really need to “know” people to gain popularity. Start networking and you’d be amazed to know how small the world actually is.

On FaceBook: You can link your blog/writing page to your profile information tab. You can create a Fan Page for people to “like” and enroll for updates.
Request feedback from friends and family regarding your post. Take criticism positively and work towards betterment.

On Twitter: Tweet in accordance to content relevant to your blog post or writing. Use keywords that work as links to your site. Be creative. Have fun. Tweet links to your content a few times during the day. Oh, don’t forget to re-tweet good posts to gather a good following.
Keep a track of what’s trending on Twitter.
Use hash tags, wisely please.
Place a re-tweet button on your post for people to talk about it.
Follow relevant, popular and interesting people. Reply to relevant, popular and interesting people.

Then there are other sites like LinkedIn (more professional), Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. The internet has millions of other blogging and community sites. Spend some time researching them and registering with them. Leave your blog post links at relevant junctures. This helps in generation of good will. Please make sure you don’t end up spamming. You have to look at it in terms of a long term investment. Make sure you don’t get in the “bad books” of people by spamming them unnecessarily.

Indulge in commenting on blogs you like and find interesting. The comments could be praising the blog post or adding value to the post. Writers can indulge in writing book reviews and posting them on relevant sites – like Amazon, Flipkart, GoodreadsBookChums!
Indulge in forum discussions on relevant sites. Register with forums that are of interest to you and interact with other members by answering their queries, if you can. Do this regularly. It helps in good brand building. Wherever necessary and relevant, leave links to your post.

 
Guest Blogging
It is always good to keep a check on the blogging community. Interact with bloggers/writers that have similar concerns and interests. Invite fellow bloggers to write on your site, and you write for them in return (with your by line of course). This free advertising bit helps in image building and gaining more exposure and visibility online.

 

Stay Active
Popularity doesn’t come in a day. It’s not magic. Unless of course you are controversy’s child. But considering how mortal we all are, there is a considerable patience we all need to hold for results to start pouring in.

You ought to stay active online and look for means to constantly promote yourself and your blog if you really want to stay visible and gain popularity. Always remember: Consistency pays.

 

Other Cool Stuff
Make sure you do something new each day. You’ll have something new to write about each day.
Get creative with video blogs and upload them on various portals. There’s YouTube, Tubemogul, etc. to experiment with. Check out Scribd. That might interest you too.

And if all this is still mumble-jumble for you…I’m around to help you.

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Interview with Vijayendra Haryal and Anandan Pillai

Social Media Revolution is taking the globe under its stride. A lot has been explored and a lot still needs to be uncovered. In this scenario, “Social Media Simplified” is a great attempt by Vijayendra Haryal and Anandan Pillai that points out key aspects of social media strategies, along with case studies based on Indian brands highlighting their success.

I got talking with the two authors to unearth the story behind the book.
Tell us a bit about yourself.

Vijayendra: Vijayendra Haryal is working as a Global Executive Manager with an IT company. He is a Mechanical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur (Class of 2004) and did his MBA from IIM Ahmedabad in 2008. His alternative interests are social media, social enterprise.

Anandan: A PhD student pursuing his doctoral program in the social media domain from Management Development Institute, Gurgaon. He has been in the academic research field for about 5 years. His research interests include social media strategy, brand communities on social media, content strategy on social media, social media RoI etc. He has published about 18 case studies and 3 research papers before co-authoring this book.

Social Media in India is still not as developed as in other countries. What got you interested in social media?

Vijayendra: For quite some time, a thought was triggered at the very basic level- what makes ventures/businesses succeed? One of the key factors for being successful is that a product or a service,  should be timed perfectly, such that the changing behavioral pattern/ attitude of the target audience, B2B or B2C, aligns with the product offering or has high propensity to adapt in reasonably short time. Social Media has captured this to perfection by addressing the Attention Deficit Disorder, increasing individuality etc. of recent times. Though I have been interested in Social Media since college days, it really caught my fancy when I got reconnected to the co-founder of http://www.volstreet.com – a non- profit portal for NGOs /CSRs  via orkut.  Also, I’ve met / worked with quite a few people who I got introduced/ reconnected via social media on interesting projects. Even this book took shape when I got reconnected to Anandan via “People You May Know” at Facebook.

Anandan: Well, be it any technology product / service, Indian users have a lag time in comparison to users in developed countries, which has been inevitable for some business reasons. However, if you notice in the past year or two the lag time has been decreasing substantially, for instance products like iPad are being launched in India almost at the same time as they are introduced in developed countries (which was not the case earlier for many products). So, Indian users have adopted social media comparatively late than their counterparts in developed countries, the growth rate has been substantial and hence we thought to contribute by sharing, with  the social media users, our understanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Would you like to share the incident that got you two together, to venture into writing a book on social media?
Vijayendra & Anandan: We both met each other first in 2007 at IIM-Ahmedabad, but lost touch in course of life and we hardly exchanged emails. All of a sudden in 2009, we met through Facebook and when we both realized our common interests, I (Vijayendra) pitched the idea of the book to Anandan, which he gradually accepted and thus began the journey of the book.

What according to you is the USP of your book?
Vijayendra & Anandan: Distinct category of readers (on the bases of their background, awareness, etc.) will derive different values from the book. Right from listing down Do’s and Don’t’s on FB and Twitter for individual users as well as organizations, we have also discussed Social Media Strategy and ROI. We believe that facets of social media unknown to you would be unraveled as you read the book and this experience will provide you with more confidence.

We’ve got very good feedback on the case studies of 30 Indian brands, which is the key USP of the book. There are a lot of social media books available in the market, but almost they are all written by authors in developed countries and hence the examples/cases they have covered are all from their geographical locations. The case studies we’ve covered are of brands operating in India and the Indian readers should be able to relate to those situations more effectively.

We also have a continuing discussion at the facebook page and twitter handle of the book thus engaging readers beyond the book.
What do you think hamper the growth of social media in India? Does your book suggest ways of overcoming them?
Vijayendra & Anandan: The Internet penetration in India is still less than 10%. This will surely increase with the recent 3 G roll out, but it will still be long way to go. Technology should be seamlessly available for users to get on these innovative technological platforms. The ways to overcome technological challenges is beyond the scope of the book, and hence hasn’t been covered in the book.
The second main reason is awareness of the opportunities for professionals as well as businesses that have evolved due to Social Media. Personal branding has also taken a whole new dimension and ways in which we work have changed. The earnest attempt of the book is to build a holistic perspective on Social Media.
Any experiences during writing the book that you’d like to share? How easy or difficult was the research process?
Vijayendra & Anandan: We both stayed at two ends of the country – Anandan at Gurgaon and Vijayendra at Chennai. So, we could never meet each other and our busy timelines didn’t allow us to interact on mobile too. Hence, the entire research, authoring process was done with the help of Google Documents. Both of us kept adding our thoughts to it and either of us could check them at our convenience and further build on. The technology enabled us to gather our thoughts, in spite of our geographical restrictions. Whenever, either of us got a thought or an idea, we either posted it in Google doc, or dropped a mail or even SMSed. The essence is not ‘losing the thought’ and capturing ‘the moment’. In our case, we ‘asynchronously’ captured ideas. Of course, being well-read and observant in the domain helped.
Any social media strategies that you used to promote your book?
Vijayendra & Anandan: The inspiration was to make the whole process from getting to know about the book, making a purchase decision and feedback ‘interactive’ and ‘transparent’.  We had to cater to the “140 character” generation, which needs ‘something exciting’ all the time.  We had our challenges as the whole country was chanting CRICKET and SACHIN in unison when the book got released. Interestingly people were updating their status messages and tweeting much more than ever before. We buzzed people in our network about the book, created an ‘online event’ launch for our Facebook Page and Twitter handle, launched a ‘ Sneak Peek’  series with very positive feedback . Then for the next thirty days, we did a “Sneak Peek” on the 30 brands that we‘d covered. Now we share different viewpoints/ recent happenings in the Social Media arena.
Technology (and media for that matter) is always first abused, then misused and finally used. What is your take on social media platforms available nowadays to people, especially the youth?
Vijayendra & Anandan: People often fail to appreciate the benefits of a technological advancement in initial stages. The youth in India is very tech savvy and they use these social media platforms extensively. They have evolved from Orkut era to the present era of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn. Apart from the fun of networking and entertainment, we think youth should also try to leverage the utilitarian benefits from these platforms. Every social media platform has a unique feature, which could be milked by the users with respect to their own field of interest and use it judiciously for their benefit.
You book definitely has a niche readership. Was it easy to find a publisher to get to print your manuscript? Any hardships faced during the whole process?
Vijayendra & Anandan: The ideal audience is anyone who wants to be more aware of social media, learn about opportunities in this field and use it to effectively to further his/her profession or business. We think that the academic community – Business Schools especially, marketing professionals, social media enthusiasts should find this interesting. So this makes it a considerable mass depending on propensity of adaptation.
Honestly, we did not have to make extensive pitches to the publishers and the response we received was positive instantaneously. I think the publishing community at large was able to understand the potential of the book and our backgrounds also further added credence.
We see your inclination towards social media. Did you not consider coming out with an e-book only? Is the e-book on its way?
Vijayendra & Anandan: E-publishing is definitely promising but we need to be doubly sure about piracy. As we gather more confidence on E-publishing and distribution, we would surely explore this option.
Any aversions faced from critics that you did not expect? What has been the overall response towards the book?
Vijayendra & Anandan: We are appreciative of all who provided feedback, comments, etc. for taking their time out to share their insights with us. We have started noting down and building on some of the inputs that we got and would like to incorporate these in “Social Media Simplified- 2.0” or an advanced version of the book. We had to and still sometimes bear with some ‘less informed’ critics too, where we do give clarifications, but that’s part of the process! So far, this has been a pretty healthy process must say.
Name the books that have had the most impact on you.

  • Engage by Brian Solis
  • The New Community Rules:  Marketing on the Social Web by Tamar Weinberg
  • Groundswell by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff


What do we see next from you?

Vijayendra & Anandan: Since this is by far the first most comprehensive book on Social Media in the Indian context and also taking into account the fact that the Social Media space is evolving very fast, we would like to come out with an advanced version of this book. A lot is going to depend on how this book is received by the audience.

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Book Review of “Love @ Facebook” By Nikita Singh

Love @ Facebook

Nikita Singh

Well, here we go. Another “chick-lit” by a young Indian author.

And this time the author ropes in Facebook too!

Sweet!!!

So this is about a bored teenager, Vatsala, who ends up falling in “love” with a VJ – after having seen him on TV and then hunting him on FB (it’s amazing what all and who all we can find on FB!).

A few messages they exchange – blatantly flirting and generating interest – to end up being almost “obsessed” by each other.

Vatsala’s friends Janavi and Ankit can’t do much to help. And Ankit’s “love” for Vatsala usually ends up being unnoticed.

“Come on! Like wasn’t that natural. I mean Hello! She’s all “goo goo gaa gaa” about the hot-shot VJ. Talking about him day and night. How do you think she’s going to notice your gestures?”

You see, that’s the tone I felt in the dialogues while reading the book.

It’s like hearing teenagers having a conversation with a friend. And the “yuppy” ones.

I know the ideation is quite nice and the flow very easy, there is humor and a bit of maturity (hidden somewhere) but maybe I was expecting more. Oh! I forgot the author is just about 19 or so! Oh ok then…this book is just fine.

It’s nice to see Nikita’s ideation of using the FB tool to develop the story around it. It sure is a fact nowadays. Quite a bit of stuff happens on FB.

*But I wonder why some people on other sites have used the “defence” way already while writing reviews for this book?

As of today, not many writers think of adding literary value in their work – and somehow even I’ve stopped expecting the same from them, so why go “defending” it. It’s a personal opinion. Some people like it. Some don’t. Why prick them?? I wouldn’t really expect “you” to like Shakespeare, now would I ?!

Anyways, other’s who have chanced to stumble upon this one, wait for a friend to buy it so that you can “borrow” it and read it. Like I did ;)

Yeah, I invest my money in International authors!

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